Monday, 20 June 2011


There are times when the South Wales Argus justifiably draws our attention to some pretty grim statistics - today is one of those days. The figures for Domestic abuse / violence in Gwent have been released and they make pretty grim reading. News that more than 16,000 cases of domestic abuse / violence have been reported to Gwent Police in the last two years should shock us, we should also spare a thought for those cases that are not being reported and recorded.

Gwent Police figures (according to the South Wales Argus) show that there were 8,659 incidents (2,215 of which involved violence) reported in 2009/10 and 8,093 incidents (2,631 of which involved violence) of domestic abuse reported in 2010/11. The first all Wales domestic abuse conference took place last week in Cardiff (hosted by the Independent Police Complaints Commission and Gwent Police) as Police forces across Wales are looking at ways of protecting repeat victims of domestic abuse and encouraging the reporting of domestic abuse, at a time when they face reductions in their budgets.

While the way in which our Police Forces deal with domestic violence /abuse has improved greatly over the years, but, there is still room for improvement.The South Wales Argus raises an interesting point, perhaps it is time for a register of domestic abusers to be established, so that the repeat perpetrators of domestic abuse who come to notice can be monitored and tracked.

This is something that the Association of Chief Police Officers have been suggesting for some years, back in November 2009 they suggested that:
  • Persons at risk of violence have the ‘right to know’ about relevant information;
  • consideration of a new criminal offence whereby a prosecution may be brought on the basis of evidence of repeated violent behaviour (known as a ‘Course of Conduct’) against different victims of violence; and
  • that the law should be changed to enable the police to issue a Domestic Violence Protection Order of up to 14 days duration, to prevent a suspected perpetrator of this form of violence from entering the address of the victim and/or to prevent contact with the victim.

This may help provide a basic level of protection for those who suffer domestic abuse / violence. Some Police Forces in the 1990's as I recall from a previous life actively looked at ways to remove the onus of prosecution away from the victim, something that would help to flag up repeat offenders. In my previous employment I saw the tragic consequences, that could (and can still) result from the situation where the victims of domestic abuse have been too terrified to take the step of co-operating with the Police and prosecuting authorities.

Victims of domestic abuse come form all levels of society, there is no stereotypical victim, and victims all deserve equal and easy access to justice and protection from abuse. Further progress must be made to take the onus of prosecution away from the victims of domestic abuse, while at the same time ensuring that victims and their children get the fullest levels of protection, safety and security from their abusers.

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